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For The First Time Since 1959, Cuba's Leader Won't Be Named Castro

Cuba Will Have First Non Castro Leader After 59 Years Miguel Diaz Canel Set To Take Over

Raul Castro has led the State Council since 2008, when he replaced his elder brother, leader of the Cuban revolution Fidel Castro (1926-2016).

Miguel Diaz-Canel is the sole candidate to succeed Cuba's President Raul Castro, officials announced on Wednesday on the eve of a vote in the National Assembly.

While the assembly promotes younger leaders, Castro and other older revolutionaries are expected to retain their power due to their hold on the Communist Party. Castro was originally set to retire February 24 this year, but the country was still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, so his succession was postponed.

News outlets say whoever is elected is unlikely to make any big changes for now, at least while Castro still has some power.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

Wearing a dark suit in place of military fatigues, Castro sat near Diaz-Canel as an official read out the names of proposed leaders to the 604 legislators gathered at a convention center in a Havana suburb.

A two-day session of the Cuban legislature has started with some bureaucratic business as lawmakers prepare to elect the country's new president.

But with the economy suffering from a crisis in allied Venezuela and relations with the United States strained anew under President Donald Trump, some Cubans are pessimistic about their lives improving and feel nervous about what is to come.

Miguel Diaz Canel had been widely tipped to take over since last year
Miguel Diaz Canel had been widely tipped to take over since last year

"I like sticking with the ideas of President Fidel Castro because he did a lot for the people of Cuba, but we need rejuvenation, above all in the economy", said Melissa Mederos, a 21-year-old schoolteacher.

Both Fidel and Raul Castro turned to radical politics at a young age as they went to school first in the eastern city of Santiago, later at the University of Havana. Castro is leaving after serving two five-year terms.

The Candidacy Commission also nominated another six vice presidents of the Council of State, Cuba's highest government body.

As in Cuba's legislative elections, all of the leaders selected Wednesday were selected by a government-appointed commission. Ballots offer only the option of approving or disapproving the official candidate.

Castro entered the National Assembly just after 9 a.m. accompanied by a broadly smiling Diaz-Canel.

Fidel Castro was prime minister and president from 1959 until he fell ill in 2006.

State-run media and government-controlled Twitter accounts are promoting what is expected to be a historic handover of the presidency to the first non-Castro to lead the country in almost 60 years.

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